Posted by: Patricia Salkin | June 3, 2014

Fed Dist Court in WA Finds Zoning Discrimination Claim Barred By Statute Of Limitations

In 1989, plaintiff purchased a parcel of property about a half-mile from Fletcher Bay, on the western side of Bainbridge Island. The City of Bainbridge Island has three Neighborhood Service Centers (“NSCs”): Island Center, Lynwood Center and Rolling Bay. Plaintiff’s residentially-zoned property is just outside the Island Center NSC zone. Plaintiff has been working to incorporate his property into the Island Center NSC zone, which would permit commercial development. Pursuant to the City of Bainbridge’s Comprehensive Plan, changes to the boundaries of an NSC must go through a special planning process. In 2007, plaintiff submitted a proposal to the city council to amend the Comprehensive Plan to change the boundaries of the Island Center NSC to include his property. The City Council denied his request, and denied his second request in 2010. On August 30, 2013, plaintiff filed a complaint against the City of Bainbridge Island; Steve Bonkowski, Mayor of the City of Bainbridge Island; and Katharine Cook, Director of the City of Bainbridge Island Department of Planning and Community Development. The complaint alleged that defendants discriminated against plaintiff based upon his race, in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1983.

The District Court noted, however, that the last interaction plaintiff had with the City of Bainbridge Island or its staff was August 25, 2010, when his request to amend the Comprehensive Plan to change the boundaries of the Island Center NSC to include his property was denied. Plaintiff did not file suit until August 30, 2014, more than three years after the claims accrued. The claims were therefore barred unless plaintiff can establish a basis for equitable tolling of the statute of limitations, with he was not able to establish. Accordingly, the Defendants’ motion for summary judgment was granted and this case was dismissed with prejudice.

Cainion v City of Bainbridge Island, 2014 WL 2198238 (WD WA 5/27/2014)


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